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How to control crop diseases with smart Agriculture

How to control crop diseases with smart Agriculture
7 mins read |

Agricultural systems are confronted not only with food production for humans and animals alike but also with environmental protection issues. This is why there is currently an increasing pressure to reduce pesticide use in order to reduce possible production costs and environmental impact.

Crop monitoring enables you to identify potentially risky areas and treat them individually, resulting in a significant increase in disease management effectiveness.

The presence of plant diseases on an agricultural farm costs farmers a lot of money. Crop losses owing to animals, diseases, pests, and weeds account for 20 to 40 percent of the overall global agricultural productivity, according to IRJET research.

The traditional method of physically analyzing particular aspects of leaves, such as texture, color, and form, to identify infections is not always efficient. As a result, most farmers throughout the world engage professional agriculturists to diagnose diseases in their crops on large farms. It is, however, a time-consuming and costly process.

Some farmers’ traditional method lacks modern techniques for automating plant disease recognition and classification. Farmers fail to detect plant diseases in large farms, resulting in a significant reduction in the quantity and quality of agricultural production.

As a result, smart agriculture is an unavoidable digital asset for farmers, allowing for continuous monitoring of plant disease without requiring much labor, especially in remote farm areas.

What is crop disease?

Generally, a plant gets diseased when it is continually disrupted by a certain causal agent, resulting in a physiological process anomaly that disrupts the normal structure of the plant’s function, and growth, among other activities.

Pathological conditions and symptoms result from the disruption of one or more of a plant’s critical biochemical and physiological systems.

The occurrence and prevalence of crop diseases vary seasonally, depending on the prevalence of a pathogen, conditions of the environment, and the crops and varieties grown. Some plant varieties are more prone to outbreaks of plant diseases than others.

Classification of Plant Diseases

Plant diseases are classed genetically based on the nature of their principal causative agent, which could be non-infectious or infectious. A pathogenic organism, such as a virus, viroid, bacterium, fungus, mycoplasma, parasitic flowering plant, or nematode causes infectious plant diseases.

An agent that is infectious can replicate inside or on a host plant and spread from one vulnerable host to the next. Nonmalignant plant illnesses are caused by unfavorable growing conditions such as high temperatures, poor oxygen-moisture ratios, poisonous chemicals in the atmosphere or soil, and a nutrient deficit or excess.

Because they are not organisms capable of reproducing within a host, non-infectious causal agents are non-transmissible.

In agriculture, plants can be afflicted by multiple disease-causing agents at the same time. A plant that is suffering from nutrient insufficiency or an imbalance between soil moisture and oxygen is frequently more susceptible to pathogen infection, and a plant that has been infected by one disease is often vulnerable to secondary pathogen invasion.

The disease complex is a collection of all disease-causal agents that afflict a plant. Knowledge of typical growth habits, varietal traits, and the normal variability of plants within a species—as these relate to the environment under which the plants grow—is essential to diagnose a disease.

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Causes of crop diseases

Crop disease has traditionally been classified into two types: abiotic (also known as non-infectious) and biotic (infectious). Unfavorable environmental conditions frequently result in noncommunicable diseases. Low or high temperature and excess or lack of moisture are a few examples.

Infections are also commonly caused by harmful air contaminants. Chemical or metallurgical plants nearby can cause them to accumulate. The disease is usually caused by the soil’s unhealthy physicochemical composition.

The latter factor is frequently the result of poor-quality herbicide treatment of fields. These examples demonstrate the importance of sustainable agriculture not only for environmental protection but also for business profitability.

Even an unfavorable light regime can have a negative impact, especially on plants grown in greenhouses. Toxins released into the soil by some embryophytes (higher plants) and fungi can also be the cause of crop diseases.

Infections’ causal agents include:

  • Bacteria.
  • Parasitic plants.
  • Viruses.
  • Fungi.
  • Nematodes.

We will consider relevant crop diseases and their respective signs and symptoms in the following sections.  Non-living environmental conditions or poor farm management are examples of abiotic, or noninfectious, disease agents. They are not passed on to other plants. There are a few universally recognized abiotic agents:

  • Extreme temperatures.
  • Wind.
  • Drought or flood.
  • Moisture.
  • Frequent and heavy rain.
  • Soil compaction.
  • Excess or deficiency of nutrients.
  • Improper water management.
  • Chemical injury caused by pesticides or salts.

Biotic disease agents, also known as infectious disease agents, are living organism pathogens that can spread from one host to another and transmit disease.
Pathogens are classified into the following categories:

Fungi: The most common agricultural problem is pathogenic fungi. According to studies, this plant disease type destroys roughly one-third of all food crops each year.

In this regard, the problem is severe from both a humanitarian and an economic standpoint. These infections, like bacterial crop diseases, primarily affect plants through wounds, water pores, and stomata. Furthermore, fungal spores are frequently carried by wind gusts.

Viruses: Viroids and viruses are the most minor but critical plant enemies (subviral contagious agents). It is close to impossible to save a plant following an infection of the plant.

In most situations, the infection spreads by contact between healthy and diseased plants. Viruses can also spread by vegetative reproduction in the form of seeds, pollen, and insects. However, viruses are most commonly transmitted through the soil.

Bacteria: Bacterial crop diseases, usually caused by bacteria are among the most common infections in agriculture. In this regard, prevention and control of this type of disease are difficult.

The causal agent must enter the culture’s tissue in order to infect it. It primarily occurs as a result of damaged areas, such as those caused by agricultural tools, insects (such as fleas), or simply unfavorable weather conditions (like dust, heavy rain, and wind).

Bacteria, on the other hand, can infect plants through natural holes or glands (for example, which secrete nectar).

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Nematodes: Nematodes are plant-parasitic roundworms that cannot be seen without specialized equipment. Because they live in the soil, they primarily affect roots, bulbs, and tubers. More than 4100 dangerous nematode species have been identified.

Parasitic plants: feed on crops and get their chlorophyll from the host plant because they lack it. Dwarf mistletoe, for example, grows on other plants and obtains nutrients from them.
Algae; Theoretically, they do not cause significant damage; however, under certain conditions, they may be problematic.

What are the symptoms of plant diseases?

An observable consequence of plant disease on the plant is referred to as a symptom. One of the symptoms could be a discernible change in the plant’s color, function or shape, as it responds to the infection.

Verticillium wilt is characterized by leaf wilting, which is caused by the fungus Verticillium albo-atrium and Verticillium dahlias. Common bacterial blight symptoms on bean plants include brown necrotic lesions surrounded by a bright yellow halo at the leaf blade or center of the leaf.

You do not observe the pathogen that causes the disease, but rather a symptom caused by the infection. Outlined below are examples of common signs and symptoms of fungal, bacterial, and viral plant diseases:

Fungal disease signs:

A fungal infection is frequently manifested as local or general necrosis. Crop diseases caused by fungi can also interfere with normal growth or contribute to an abnormal burst of growth known as hypertrophy.

What are the symptoms of plant diseases?

Other symptoms of crop diseases include:

  • Leaf spots.
  • Exfoliation.
  • Rot.
  • Anthracnose.
  • Leaf ulcers.
  • Curls of warts and leaves.

Fungal disease symptoms:

  • Leaf rust (common in corn).
  • Birds-eye spot on berries (anthracnose).
  • Seedlings damping off (Phytophthora).
  • Chlorosis (yellowing of leaves).
  • Stem rust (wheat stem rust).
  • Leaf spot (septoria brown spot).
  • Sclerotinia (white mold).
  • Powdery mildew.

Bacterial disease signs (difficult to observe, but can include):

As previously stated, there are numerous disease types due to a large number of bacteria. The most common crop plant diseases are listed below:

  • Bacterial ooze.
  • Water-soaked lesions.
  • Bacterial streaming in water from a cut stem.

Bacterial disease signs

Bacterial disease symptoms:

  • Fruit spot.
  • Crown gall.
  • Leaf spot with a yellow halo.
  • Canker.
  • Shepperd’s crook stem ends on woody plants.

Viral disease signs:

Crop diseases symptoms caused by viruses are typically classified into four types: malformations, such as abnormal shoot growth and leaf and flower distortion; necrosis, wilting, and the appearance of annular stripes and spots; dwarfism, growth retardation of both individual parts and the entire plant; and discoloration, such as yellowing and vein clearing.

Root crop diseases, which manifest as rotting, are a telltale sign of the presence of a virus. Some plants, however, may not show symptoms and may be latent carriers of disease. As a result, extreme vigilance is required in the fight against this type of infection.

Plant stunting

As you can see, there is a lot of overlap in the symptoms of viral, bacterial, and fungal diseases. When an unknown problem appears in a plant, herbicide injury, abiotic diseases, and nematode problems must all be considered.

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How to save the yields and predict crop diseases with smart agriculture?

Saving yields and protecting crops from diseases is a pressing concern for any farmer who wants to achieve the best results. The first and most important step in crop protection is knowledge. Every farmer should be aware of the crop’s susceptibility to specific diseases, as well as the abiotic agents that promote disease occurrence.

More importantly, one of the most effective practices is to employ preventative measures, such as:

  • Planting of resistant or tolerant varieties.
  • Managing optimal planting and harvesting times.
  • Plant quality and healthy material.
  • Disinfestation of equipment.
  • Rotating crops.
  • Plant nutrient management based on crop needs.

There are a few other factors that could have a significant impact on the disease of field crops and their management. Regular crop and field monitoring, as well as timely response, can be a true lifesaver for any crop production. Here are three ways that smart agriculture can help with pest crop diseases.

Round-the-clock crop monitoring

Farmers all over the world suffer significant food losses as a result of crop infection by pathogens such as fungi, viruses, bacteria, and others.

Farmers can use an advanced disease detection and identification solution to reduce crop damage. Farmers can examine the moisture, temperature, and humidity content of the leaf to detect nutrient deficiencies and disease infections, which can spread in crops and reduce yield.

Advanced fertilizer calculator

A smart solution that includes a fertilizer calculator can assist in calculating the appropriate amount of fertilizer to use. This saves money on pesticides while also protecting the environment from agrochemical pollution.

Growers can also take preventive measures well in advance to avoid harvest losses by identifying the region of a farm that is at high risk of disease outbreaks.

Effective plant health monitoring

In large farms, identifying disease infections in plants through visual inspection can lead to an incorrect diagnosis. This is where an AI-powered smart agricultural solution comes in.

From a captured image of a leaf, this smart agricultural solution can assist cultivators in determining whether or not a disease persists in the plants. The technology is used for crop disease prediction and can recommend tailored plant disease treatment based on fertilizers, triggers, and symptoms using the captured images.

To Sum UP

Plant diseases pose a serious threat to the entire crop. As a result, it is critical for farmers to effectively deal with them and control them through timely prevention. This task can be difficult depending on the size of the agricultural area, especially since the list of harmful crop diseases is quite long. Farmers can however benefit from modern technologies. Crop monitoring enables you to identify risky areas and treat each crop individually, significantly increasing disease control effectiveness.

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